Comic book movie preview 2004

March 22, 2004 | Trades

Movies based on comic books burn up the box offices every year.
From the Batman movies of the late 80s and early 90s to the more recent X-Men, Spider-Man and Hulk flicks, these big-budget, eye-candy spectaculars make huge coin by using pre-existing characters to give Hollywood some much-needed franchises.
But let us not forget that before the films come the comics.
This year will see a pile of comic-book-adapted films, from Spider-Man 2 and The Punisher to Hellboy and Catwoman.
Here’s a look at some recent trade paperbacks whose lead characters are coming soon to a theatre near you.


Hellboy: Seed Of Destruction
Mike Mignola, John Byrne
Dark Horse Books
$17.95 US (Paperback)
**** (out of five)

Hellboy is the first comic-adapted movie coming down the pike this year, hitting theatres on April 2, but the story the film is loosely based on is already over 10 years old.
Dark Horse Books recently repackaged all of the Hellboy trade paperbacks with a uniform look that is very eye-catching, but the real value is in the pages.
Creator-plotter-artist Mike Mignola’s original tale of a demon from hell — how he was brought to earth and went on to become a force for good — is dark, moody and thoroughly original — something fewer and fewer comic titles can claim.
While it’s not until later volumes that the characters of Hellboy and his friends from the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense truly get fleshed out, this first story still manages to hold you and keep you turning the pages to find out who the big bad villain is, how he’s connected to Hellboy and how the over-matched hero will survive their meeting.


Catwoman: The Dark End Of The Street
Ed Brubaker, Mike Allred, Darwyn Cooke
DC Comics
$21.95/$14.95 US (Paperback)
*** (out of five)

The producers of the upcoming Catwoman film are going in a different direction than the comic book creation.
The movie, set to star Academy Award-winner Halle Berry, doesn’t feature Selina Kyle, the Catwoman made famous by Michelle Pfeiffer in 1991’s Batman Returns, but instead creates a new Catwoman origin for the fans.
Meanwhile, at DC Comics, Selina is alive and well and recently had her comic book series relaunched with a new issue No. 1 — hence a new trade paperback collecting the first few issues of the new title.
Writer Ed Brubaker, along with artists Mike Allred and Toronto resident Darwyn Cooke, get Catwoman back to her gritty roots with a murder mystery wrapped up with Selina’s struggles to figure out if she’s better off without her life in a mask.
The Dark End Of The Street is bit cartoonish for some tastes, but a good jumping on point for fans of the character.


John Constantine: Hellblazer: Son Of Man
Garth Ennis, John Higgins
DC Comics
$19.95/$12.99 US (Paperback)
*** 1/2 (out of five)

A theatrical release of Hellblazer, simply named Constantine, was originally set for release this September, but just this week was pushed back until February 2005.
However that decision won’t deter DC from continuing to collect stories of the occult investigator, such as this one.
Son Of Man is a twisted tale by Preacher and The Punisher scribe Garth Ennis that mixes London’s organized crime world with the other things that go bump in the night.
Constantine, an infamous and notorious scoundrel, is being haunted by a mistake from his past. To save his own neck years ago he trapped a demon in the body of the son of the most powerful mobster in England. Now that demon is out for revenge — and he’ll destroy the entire city to get it.
Laced with blood, gore, violence and vulgarity, Son Of Man is clearly a mature readers’ book, but a funny and mildly disturbing story as only Ennis can tell it.

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